How San Bernardino County schools plan to integrate water education into science

ONTARIO >> Water agencies and schools across San Bernardino County are working to prevent a shortage of water agency technicians and other employees ahead of a retirement tsunami.

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools has received a $190,000 grant to incorporate water issues into core curriculum classes, Kathleen Steele, coordinator of curriculum and instruction, regional occupation program education support services.

A pilot class begins this year in Rialto Unified School District, as well as in the Twentynine Palms-based Morongo Unified School District, Steele said.



She was among more than 300 to attend the 10th annual San Bernardino County Water Conference held Friday at the Ontario Convention Center.

Steel attended a breakout session of the conference called “Preparing for the Next Generation for Water Careers.”

As part of that presentation, Cucamonga Water District Human Resources Manager Roberta Perez explained her agency’s internship program which is designed to connect future water industry workers with industry veterans still employed by the agency.

The program is a cooperative effort between the agency and the Water Technology Program at San Bernardino Valley College, Perez said during her presentation.



The internship is an applied field training course to augment the course work at the community college, Perez said.

The interns may choose to work in any of six modules: Water Utility, Wastewater Utility, Field Service, Engineering, Production and Treatment.

The high school water industry education program will begin with a life science course, which meets the state curriculum for biology, but is water focused. Courses to be rolled out later would take a water-centered approach to chemistry and physics, she said.



Juanita Chan, science lead in the RUSD professional development center, said that the district is looking for programs that would lead to well-paying employment with just a two-year degree, and water agency jobs meet that criteria.

Cal State San Bernardino Water Resources Institute Director Boykin Witherspoon said he hopes to do a study of California’s water industry to catalogue the number of people it employees and its economic impacts,

“There have been studies like this for the movie industry, for transportation and agriculture, but not for water,” he said.